ORLANDO – If the latest swirl of rumors prove true and the Dwight Howard circus finally ends with guard Jason Richardson joining the All-Star center in a trade package to Brooklyn, the Magic will be without three of their current top four scorers. Forward Ryan Anderson will be shipped to New Orleans.
That means the Magic will be in an all-out rebuilding mode and will have a glaring need for a go-to scorer next season.
So here came Andrew Nicholson with a quite timely debut in the AirTran Airways Orlando Pro Summer League on Monday.
The No. 19 pick in the draft appeared very comfortable, displayed an array of offensive moves and converted a three-point play that put the Magic in front for good in a win over the Nets.
“I just played my game, used my versatility and length,” Nicholson said after making 8-of-16 shots for 24 points and also collecting 12 rebounds and two blocked shots.
The 6-foot-9 forward might have taken a step toward changing the minds of some of the scouts on hand who had been a bit skeptical after he spent his college career at St. Bonaventure in the Atlantic-10 and not banging heads in one of the power conferences.
But he said there was no sense of anxiety and he didn’t take the court as if he had something to prove.
“I wasn’t really nervous,” he said. “I don’t really get nervous easily. But I just saw it as another basketball game. We’ve been practicing for the whole week, so we’re prepared.”
Nicholson has range that goes out to the 3-point line and is deceptive with his ability to score in the paint. He’s bigger and stronger than he appears at first glance and with his extra long arms as developed an array of moves to get his shot off in the crowds around the basket. He’s got a nice medium-range that he says is his bread-and-butter.
“When he extends up for those little jump hooks it’s tough for people to get to it,” said Mark Price, who is serving as head coach for the Magic this week. “For a kid his age, he’s got extremely good footwork, up-and-unders, pivoting underneath, and he also has the ability to step out. If you leave him open, he can knock down 15- to 18-foot jump shots.
“He’s got a lot of upside, and he hasn’t even figured everything out yet.”
If the trade winds do pick up to gale force and the Magic wind up starting from scratch, Nicholson will have a blank canvas and plenty of opportunity to work on.